Analyzing Witchcraft Beliefs

  • Jane F. Collier


In 1967–1968, when I was doing field research for my dissertation on “law” in the Tzotzil Maya community of Zinacantan, Chiapas, Mexico, I periodically took time off from collecting cases to explore a particular topic in depth. I spent a month focusing on marital problems, collecting accounts of all the divorces and reconciliations that had occurred within memory in one Zinacanteco hamlet of 600 people. The two months I spent analyzing witchcraft beliefs, however, were the most fruitful by far. Analyzing witchcraft helped me not only to solve puzzles that had arisen in my analysis of cases, but also gave me a way of fitting my growing understanding of Zinacanteco law into the theoretical shifts that were occurring in American anthropology in the 1970s and early 1980s.


Social Control Project Member Town Hall Religious Post Judicial Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Asad, Talal 1972 Market Model, Class Structure and Consent: A Reconsideration of Swat Political Organization. Man 7(1): 74–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barkun, Michael 1968 Law Without Sanctions: Order in Primitive Societies and the World Community. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Barth, Fredrik 1966 Models of Social Organization. Royal Anthropological Institute Occasional Papers 23.Google Scholar
  4. Black, Mary and Duane Metzger 1965 Ethnographic Description and the Study of Law. American Anthropologist 67(6): pt. 2: 141–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bohannan, Paul J. 1957 Justice and Judgment among the Tiv. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cancian, Francesca 1975 What are Norms? New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Collier, George A. 1994 Basta! Land and the Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas. Oakland, CA: Food First Book.Google Scholar
  8. Collier, Jane F. 1973 Law and Social Change in Zinacantan. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Collier, Jane F. 1979 Stratification and Dispute Handling in Two Highland Chiapas Communities. American Ethnologist 6(2): 305–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Collier, Jane F. 1988 Marriage and Inequality in Classless Societies. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Collier, Jane F. 1999 Models of Indigenous Justice in Chiapas, Mexico. A Comparison of State and Zinacanteco Versions. PoLAR 22(1): 94–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Evans–Pritchard, Edward E. 1976 Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Fabrega, Horacio, Jr., and Daniel Silver 1973 Illness and Shamanistic Curing in Zinacantan. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Geertz, Clifford 1973 The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  15. Gluckman, Max 1955 The Judicial Process among the Bartose of Northern Rhodesia. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Greenhouse, Carol 1971 Litigant Choice: Non-secular and Secular Sanctions in Zinacanteco Conflict Resolution. Unpublished Senior Honors Thesis. Harvard University.Google Scholar
  17. Guiteras Holmes, Calixta 1961 Perils of the Soul: The World View of a Tzotzil Indian. New York: Free Press of Glencoe.Google Scholar
  18. Hermitte, Esther M. 1964 Supernatural Power and Social Control in a Modern Maya Village. Unpublished Doctoral dissertation in Anthropology. University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  19. Hoebel, E. Adamson 1954 The Law of Primitive Man. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Laughlin, Robert 1975 The Great Tzotzil Dictionary of San Lorenzo Zinacantan. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  21. Malinowski, Bronislaw 1948 Magic, Science and Religion and Other Essays. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.Google Scholar
  22. Nader, Laura 1969 “Styles of Court Procedure: To Make the Balance.” In Laura Nader (ed.) Law in Culture and Society. Chicago, IL: Aldine.Google Scholar
  23. Nader, Laura (ed.) 1965 The Ethnography of Law. American Anthropologist (special publication) 67(6).Google Scholar
  24. Nader, Laura (ed.) 1969 Law in Culture and Society. Chicago, IL: AldineGoogle Scholar
  25. Pospisil, Leopold 1958 Kapauku Papuans and their Law. Yale University Publications in Anthropology 54. Prokosch, Eric 1964 Court Procedure in the Settlement of Disputes in Chamula. Unpublished manuscript. London School of Economics.Google Scholar
  26. Rus, Jan 1973 “One Court, Two Cultures: Rhetorical Strategy and Cultural Interference in a Changing Maya Community.” Paper delivered at the 1973 meetings of the American Anthropological Association.Google Scholar
  27. Spradley, James 1970 You Owe Yourself a Drunk: An Ethnography of Urban Nomads. Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  28. Starr, June and Jane F. Collier 1987 Historical Studies of Legal Change. Current Anthropology 28(3): 367–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Starr, June and Jane F. Collier (eds.) 1989 History and Power in the Study of Law. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Strathem, Marilyn 1985 Discovering “Social Control.” Journal of Law and Society 12(2): 111–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 1969 Zinacantan: A Maya Community in the Highlands of Chiapas. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Young, Stephen B. 1965 “Their Peoples Servants:” Political Officials in a Highland Maya Community. Unpublished ms. of the Harvard Chiapas Project.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© June Starr and Mark Goodale 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane F. Collier

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations